Dwarf Fortress is a relatively obscure game, and the fact that it has monumental barriers to entry certainly doesn’t help. That said, Dwarf Fortress is a legendary game, one that has received updates since its alpha release in 2006, and is one of the most in-depth, complex, astounding games out there. Also, It was made entirely by two brothers, Tarn and Zach Adams.
Probably the most noticeable thing about the game is that it is entirely in ASCII. Also, your mouse doesn’t work. While it does provide a certain charm, it is also rather hard to decipher. That is why unless you truly crave that 100 percent authentic experience, most people download the Lazy Newb Pack, which provides tons of helpful features, including something and necessary seeming as mouse support. It also includes texture packs, which will reskin the game, making it more playable.
So, what do you do in a Dwarf Fortress? The games unofficial motto is, “Losing is fun,” adopted by the community and creators, and while perhaps not readily apparent, really is what the game is about. While the game does have 3 modes, I will only talk about fortress mode, as it is the ‘main’ game mode and the one from which the motto spawns. After generating an entire world, complete with unique lore, you embark on a journey with a group of dwarfs, a few supplies, are plopped down and set free. No instruction. No tutorial. Your only goal is to create a fortress for your dwarves and run it successfully.
This might sound easy, but after the first few years of relative peace, your fortress will begin to be attacked by evil creatures, but even before that, you’re busy keeping all your dwarves happy and not at each others throats. The “losing is fun” motto comes from the last leg of your fortress, when everything has gone end up. Maybe one of your dwarves was secretly a vampire lord, possibly all the corpses you piled up and forgot to let air out have poisoned your entire fort; the possibilities are stupidly endless.
There are tons and tons of great and hilarious stories online, worth a read regardless if you play or not. The patch notes are also worth a read; my personal favorite was a bug involving exploding cats. The fun in Dwarf Fortress comes from trying to manage your fort, keep it alive, but also take risks and come up with crazy schemes and designs. Be bold! Found lava? Maybe you want a lava moat in front of your fort! Nothing could go wrong!
Dwarf Fortress is a real experience of a game and one that is really hard to get into. If you are interested, you can download the game from their website, Bay 12 Games, as well as find the Lazy Newb Pack and other resources on the wiki, which I highly recommend.